Published August 21, 2014
Yuejia Lin dug his spade into the ground of a neighborhood flower bed at the intersection of Winspear and Northrup in North Buffalo.
“I have never gardened before in my life,” he confided, as he aerated the soil and cleaned out the debris.
Lin arrived in the U.S. from China barely two weeks ago to begin his studies as an MBA student in the UB School of Management. But what he lacked in experience, he more than made up for in energy and enthusiasm.
He and 110 other first-year MBAs hit the ground running on Wednesday as volunteers for the 22nd annual Western New York Day of Caring. Organized by United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, the event mobilizes thousands of people to complete hands-on community service projects in the region.
In addition to tending the community gardens, the management students worked in small teams in both the University Heights area and the Kensington Bailey district performing neighborhood cleanup, removing graffiti, mapping trees and sprucing up the grounds of Linear Park and the old Campus North PS 63.
Incoming MBA Varun Suri relished the chance to contribute his time.
“I can’t think of a better way to start this new chapter of my life than by actually doing something good for the community I’m going to be a part of for at least the next two years,” he said.
The MBAs participated in the Day of Caring as one component of MBA Advantage, the School of Management’s innovative professional development series. Beginning with orientation and continuing throughout the two-year program, MBA Advantage helps students become quickly involved in the team-based learning environment that is the backbone of the UB MBA curriculum and develop skills that others might obtain only through years of corporate experience.
“Volunteerism and service projects are more than just a great way to help out,” said Arjang Assad, dean of the School of Management. “These activities also prepare our students to work in corporate cultures that focus more and more on giving back. This is exactly the kind of real-world learning that is the foundation of MBA Advantage.”
The infusion of the MBA class brought the number of UB volunteers to more than 260 — an all-time high, according to Amy Myszka, UB’s volunteer coordinator and director of Wellness and Work/Life Balance.
President Satish K. Tripathi, Provost Charles Zukoski and other senior administrators visited all the UB volunteer sites over the course of the day, catching up with the MBAs late in the morning.
“We are so proud of the contribution you are making to the university and to our community,” Tripathi told the students. “UB’s mission as a public research university is really about making the world around us a better place through our ideas, our actions, and our engagement—starting right here in our surrounding neighborhoods. Your volunteer efforts are an inspiring example of the difference we can make working together—today and every day.”
Before Monday, most of the MBAs were strangers. Like other activities this week, working together on the Day of Caring as a group helped them get to know each other.
“Today’s involvement not only visibly benefited the surrounding communities, but also transformed students of many backgrounds into one family,” said Anthony “TJ” Sumigray, an Amsterdam, N.Y., native who has lived in Buffalo for the past year prior to enrolling in the MBA program.
And many students just enjoyed the day for the pure pleasure of helping others.
“I really loved trimming trees today,” said Charu Bhadouria, who just came to Buffalo on Aug. 9 from India for the MBA program. “I truly believe what Mother Teresa said, ‘It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.’”